6 Month Check-Up.

Posted by Jenni Clayville.

Calendar_0 The Clayville Family life is run by google calendar. It’s the best thing since the internet was born by Al Gore. It’s the only thing that allows all of us to run in all different directions but always end up on the same page.

Genius!

I guess it also helps that I am an organizer. I find peace in organizing. I find joy in shelves, baskets, storage containers, label makers, and spread sheets. I believe these things are from God. And God is good.

One of the ways I take advantage of these systems is in how I make appointments. I just came back from my 6-month dental cleaning and check-up. My teeth feel smooth and squeaky clean. I love the dentist. I love them so much that I schedule my appointments two at a time. Yes. I’m on the books for the following year so that I KNOW I don’t have to wait for a space to “clear up” or end up on a waiting list. It’s not just the dentist that I do this with. It’s ALL my appointments.

But really, the biggest reason is so that can make sure I am intentional about my health. Life gets busy. I know myself. If it’s not on my calendar, it’s very possible that 4 years flies by before I realize I haven’t “checked in” and that’s how diseases find their way in and fester. Without intentional scheduling, I will fail to doing something, seeing someone, following through with a promise, etc. I want to be good on my word. Which brings me to what I really want to say…

I need to be as adamant about relationships (making a point to spend time with people, checking in, following through, being consistent, etc.) with friends, ministry leaders, and those that serve within my ministries. They matter more than a dental appointment. They are my community…and at times…my lifeline. They are imperative for my mental, emotional and spiritual health. So often, as leaders, we get caught up in our own world and write off these relationships with a “Oh… they’ll understand how busy this season is. I’ll see them in a couple of weeks.” and the next thing you know, FOUR years goes by.

We can’t do that. People are not our means to an end. People are what God gave us to reflect His relationship with us.

Make time. Today, tomorrow and next week. Make time now.

How do YOU make sure you don’t fall behind in the time you invest in people?

In Focus.

Posted by Laryssa Toomer

Looking through the glasses at eye chart 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

As a contact lens wearer, most people can’t tell that I’m very near-sighted. This simply means I can see close-up but anything at a distance is fuzzy. Our alarm clock continues to be a red-blur to this day! I also keep several pairs of prescription glasses close by for my own safety. Attempts to do certain tasks such as driving without them is flat-out dangerous.

We are often just as vulnerable to skewed vision and danger when we attempt to do life and ministry without a continual return to beholding the glory of the Lord, without the lens of God and His Word. I’ve experienced numerous spiritual crashes and bumps as a result of living in my own [religious] strength or leading from a place of hurt, skepticism or weariness. Our intentions are one thing and yet our behavior and swirling thoughts are quite another. Fears. Doubts. Hurts. Distrust. Loneliness. Worry. Uncertainties. The what-ifs and whys—all the secret mediations that no one sees but God. Before we know it, we find ourselves being led by those things instead of the sweet rule of Jesus.

Earlier this year, my family asked me, “Are you okay? You’re sorta quiet.” I looked at them and proclaimed the words of Po in Kung Fu Panda 2, “I’m not freaking out. I’m freaking in.” It’s easy as leaders to self-protect, become scripted, poised and outwardly-focused while inwardly our hearts are a hot mess in need of grace. We won’t be void of trouble and hurt in this world but we must guard our hearts against anything that seeks to rule it except for Jesus. Regardless of what’s going on around and IN me, I have to ask the tough questions, “Am I looking to Jesus? How will I respond in light of the Gospel?” Game-changers every time.

Much like putting on my glasses before I get out of bed in the morning, I need grace to put on Christ so that I don’t lose sight of who He is and who I am in Him…my transformation hinges on it. I desperately need to see others and life through the lens of God’s perspective. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isa. 55:9)—higher than what we see and feel, higher than our freaking outs and ins.

What are you attempting today in life and ministry in your own strength, sight, or emotions? How does God’s grace rescue you whenever you’re tempted to be led by fears, distrust, and shaky circumstances?

Let Your No Shape Your Yes.

Posted by Emily Cummins.

yT7pkkqTn I read a statement once that I haven’t been able to forget: “Some of the most life-shaping decisions you make in this season will be about walking away from good-enough, in search of can’t-live-without.” That simple truth got me thinking that perhaps what we say no to is just as important as what we say yes to…and sometimes, our no might be even more important that our yes.

Good is fine and all, but I don’t want to settle for just good. I want to live out everything God has planned for me to the best of my ability. I want to graduate from good to great. I want to grow, dive deeper, push through leadership lids, and become. I don’t want a life that’s stagnant and stale; I don’t want to live trapped in a sea of bland. I want a life of color, adventure, and risk. I want to put my head on my pillow each night knowing that if God doesn’t show up in the dreams He’s put in my heart, it’s game over for me. I want to be dependent, but only on Jesus. I want to pursue my passions relentlessly. I want to challenge myself, push myself to the limit, and discover just how far I can go.

But in order to really fulfill the call God has on my life, I’m going to have to start saying no.

No to hasty decisions.
No to pleasing people rather than pleasing God.
No to unhealthy relationships.
No to perfectionism.
No to unintentional living.
No to settling for average.
No to thinking I know it all.
No to living stuck in past shame.
No to unwise thoughts.
No to good-enough.

The foundation I build with my no’s will lead to a stronger yesYes to what God has created me for. Yes to who He has called me to be. Yes to the life I want to lead. Yes to the girl I want to become.

Without saying no, I can’t set myself up to say yes.

What will you say no to today in order to say a resounding YES?

It Takes a Fight.

image In one of my recent counseling sessions, I had this realization that made the session worth it.  We were talking about fighting versus fleeing. We went in a time capsule through my life of when I fought and when I fled. Fleeing was easy in the moment, hard in the long run. Fighting was hard in the moment, easier in the long run.  When I looked at the totality of the times I had fought (for marriage, mental health, ministry dreams) I started to get emotional. But the tears forming on my eyelids were 100% joy.

 

I don’t want to say I’m proud of the times I have fought, because truthfully, pride isn’t what I did it for.  But I am thankful. I am thankful I fought. I am thankful that when the enemy shouted, “Give up,” “Why waste your time?” and “They’ll understand if you quit,” that God helped me hear HIM even louder.

 

God PROMISES that joy WILL come in the morning. God promises that we WALK through the valley of the shadow of death, but we do not live there. God promises that trials produce CHARACTER. God promises that his JOY is our strength. God promises that we are MORE than conquerors! And that one really motivates me! I can’t imagine what is “more” than a conqueror? A hero? Because if more than a conqueror means I’m a hero of my faith, then my boys, DJ and Andy, aren’t just being raised by a mom, they’re being raised by a hero with a badge that says: more than a conquering mom. I don’t know where you are, but before you flee, just try one thing: get on your knees, and ask God, “Should I fight?”

 

Baby Steps.

Posted by Cindy Beall

davidgoliath Goliath wasn’t killed when a smooth stone dug into his forehead.

Scripture says in 1 Samuel 17:51 that David, the soon-to-be king of Israel but currently employed shepherd of stinky sheep, ran over to Goliath, stole his sword and cut off his head, right after knocking the 9-foot giant to the ground with said stone. The stone was merely the climax leading to the end which was finalized by a sword. But it began with “little” stuff way before his brave day of battle on behalf of his people.

Baby steps.

That’s what it takes to succeed. Few people conquer great feats in one fell swoop. It takes being faithful in the little in order to see the big come to pass. And for David, it started with shepherding those dumb sheep that he protected day in and day out. He fought off bears and lions to keep them safe for that was his job. And while that may seem far from a glorious (or clean) role, he did it and it subsequently prepared him to face a giant. The courage he exhibited daily as a shepherd boy was preparing him for the biggest fight of his life. All the while, the entire Israelite army was sitting on the sidelines while a giant named Goliath came out and taunted them twice a day for 40 days.

This is life. Whether we are finishing college or raising children or changing roles or experiencing pain beyond comprehension, we have to press in every single day.

Every. Single. Solitary. Day.

Even when it seems monotonous and grueling, things are progressing. They are. Just because we take a few steps backward on certain days does not mean we haven’t made progress. It may feel like we are collecting small stones—and we very well may be. But one day some small stone will be the very object that God uses to help us kill a giant.

Women of God, do not grow weary in doing good, for in the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Don’t give up on what God has called you to do.

Just don’t.

What baby steps will you take today?